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Profile: Thomas W. Simpson (Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge)
  1. Vincent C. Müller & Thomas W. Simpson (2014). Killer Robots: Regulate, Don’T Ban. In University of Oxford, Blavatnik School of Government Policy Memo. Blavatnik School of Government 1-4.
    Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems are here. Technological development will see them become widespread in the near future. This is in a matter of years rather than decades. When the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons meets on 10-14th November 2014, well-considered guidance for a decision on the general policy direction for LAWS is clearly needed. While there is widespread opposition to LAWS—or ‘killer robots’, as they are popularly called—and a growing campaign advocates banning them outright, we argue the opposite. LAWS (...)
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  2. Thomas W. Simpson & Vincent C. Müller (forthcoming). Just War and Robots’ Killings. Philosophical Quarterly:pqv075.
    May lethal autonomous weapons systems—‘killer robots ’—be used in war? The majority of writers argue against their use, and those who have argued in favour have done so on a consequentialist basis. We defend the moral permissibility of killer robots, but on the basis of the non-aggregative structure of right assumed by Just War theory. This is necessary because the most important argument against killer robots, the responsibility trilemma proposed by Rob Sparrow, makes the same assumptions. We show that the (...)
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  3.  71
    Vincent C. Müller & Thomas W. Simpson (2015). Réguler les robots-tueurs, plutôt que les interdire. Multitudes 58 (1):77.
    This is the short version, in French translation by Anne Querrien, of the originally jointly authored paper: Müller, Vincent C., ‘Autonomous killer robots are probably good news’, in Ezio Di Nucci and Filippo Santoni de Sio, Drones and responsibility: Legal, philosophical and socio-technical perspectives on the use of remotely controlled weapons. - - - L’article qui suit présente un nouveau système d’armes fondé sur des robots qui risque d’être prochainement utilisé. À la différence des drones qui sont manoeuvrés à distance (...)
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  4.  64
    Thomas W. Simpson (2012). What Is Trust? Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (4):550-569.
    Trust is difficult to define. Instead of doing so, I propose that the best way to understand the concept is through a genealogical account. I show how a root notion of trust arises out of some basic features of what it is for humans to live socially, in which we rely on others to act cooperatively. I explore how this concept acquires resonances of hope and threat, and how we analogically apply this in related but different contexts. The genealogical account (...)
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  5.  50
    Thomas W. Simpson (2012). Evaluating Google as an Epistemic Tool. Metaphilosophy 43 (4):426-445.
    This article develops a social epistemological analysis of Web-based search engines, addressing the following questions. First, what epistemic functions do search engines perform? Second, what dimensions of assessment are appropriate for the epistemic evaluation of search engines? Third, how well do current search engines perform on these? The article explains why they fulfil the role of a surrogate expert, and proposes three ways of assessing their utility as an epistemic tool—timeliness, authority prioritisation, and objectivity. “Personalisation” is a current trend in (...)
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  6.  45
    Thomas W. Simpson (2013). Trustworthiness and Moral Character. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (3):543-557.
    Why are people trustworthy? I argue for two theses. First, we cannot explain many socially important forms of trustworthiness solely in terms of the instrumentally rational seeking of one’s interests, in response to external sanctions or rewards. A richer psychology is required. So, second, possession of moral character is a plausible explanation of some socially important instances when people are trustworthy. I defend this conclusion against the influential account of trust as ‘encapsulated interest’, given by Russell Hardin, on which most (...)
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  7.  18
    Thomas W. Simpson (2011). E-Trust and Reputation. Ethics and Information Technology 13 (1):29-38.
    Trust online can be a hazardous affair; many are trustworthy, but some people use the anonymity of the web to behave very badly indeed. So how can we improve the quality of evidence for trustworthiness provided online? I focus on one of the devices we use to secure others’ trustworthiness: tracking past conduct through online reputation systems. Yet existing reputation systems face problems. I analyse these, and in the light of this develop some principles for system design, towards overcoming these (...)
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  8.  34
    Thomas W. Simpson (2011). Robots, Trust and War. Philosophy and Technology 24 (3):325-337.
    Putting robots on the battlefield is clearly appealing for policymakers. Why risk human lives, when robots could take our place, and do the dirty work of killing and dying for us? Against this, I argue that robots will be unable to win the kind of wars that we are increasingly drawn into. Modern warfare tends towards asymmetric conflict. Asymmetric warfare cannot be won without gaining the trust of the civilian population; this is ‘the hearts and minds’, in the hackneyed phrase (...)
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  9.  22
    Thomas W. Simpson (2012). Testimony and Sincerity. Ratio 25 (1):79-92.
    Is there a justified presumption that a speaker is testifying sincerely? Anti-reductionism about testimony claims that there is, absent reasons to the contrary. Yet why believe this, given the actuality and prevalence of lies and deception? I examine one argument that may be appropriated to meet this challenge, David Lewis's claim that truthfulness is a convention. I argue that it fails, and that the supposition that there is a presumption of sincerity remains unsupported. The failure of Lewis's argument is instructive, (...)
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  10.  2
    Thomas W. Simpson (2015). Did Marine A Do Wrong? On Biggar’s Lethal Intentions. Studies in Christian Ethics 28 (3):287-291.
    On patrol in Afghanistan, Sgt Blackman—referred to as ‘Marine A’ at the subsequent trial—pulled a wounded Taliban fighter out of view and shot him at close range. He was subsequently convicted for murder. I argue that, given premises endorsed in In Defence of War, Nigel Biggar is committed to the justifiability of that battlefield killing.
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  11.  1
    Thomas W. Simpson (2015). The Morality of Defensive War. [REVIEW] Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):590-593.
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